A major $3 million refurbishment of one of Brisbane’s most prominent heritage buildings is nearing completion.
Wynnum’s landmark Mount Carmel Convent, now referred to as the new Mount Carmel Centre, is undergoing an extensive revitalisation to transform the two-storey building into a vibrant space featuring commercial offices and a function centre.
The detailed work has required input from multiple specialists and includes the complete rebuilding of all verandas surrounding the building, the installation of a lift and mechanical, electrical and structural upgrades to bring it up to 21st century standards.
Built for the Sisters of Mercy in 1915 by Hall and Dods, a highly renowned architectural firm, the convent was placed on the Queensland Heritage Register in 1999.
Australian Heritage Specialists (AHS) is the project manager and heritage consultant for the refurbishment of the centre, which is now owned by Brisbane Catholic Education.
AHS Principal Consultant Benjamin Gall said the adaptive reuse project would be defined by the amount of detail that went into converting it for modern uses, such as disability access, fire safety and interactive function spaces, all of which presented numerous challenges.
“As a former convent, the building is quite elaborate in design but also very modest in its original function. This brings with it a unique level of architectural detailing, and is of state importance,” Mr Gall said.
“We have respected the heritage values of the building by carrying out necessary repairs and additions while conserving the historic and social values of the place – in fact, most people will notice very little difference to the overall look of the building.
“Our brief was to ensure the usability of the building could be revitalised for another 100 years and that’s what we’ve done, while also giving an important part of Wynnum’s history an appropriate new purpose.”
The upstairs space, including former nun’s ‘cells’ and living areas, will be leased out for commercial offices while downstairs rooms will be used for functions and meeting space.